When the API Is the Company

Like more and more startups, Whit.li is betting on an API as its sole go-to-market channel. The company helps developers build more relevant apps and websites for their users through rare interests, personality traits, derived demographics and sentiment analysis. COO Andi Gillentine explains how Mashery has helped her API—and, by extension, her company—gain traction.

Why launch an API?

“An API is the most direct route to massive traction in online commerce and advertising. But releasing the API is just the start. The challenge, of course, is to engage developer communities.”

Without a traditional sales infrastructure, how do you build awareness for the API?

“Our launch at Mashery’s SXSW Circus Mashimus lounge allowed us to debut on a much larger scale than most startups. As a result, we find ourselves on the radar for industries that we thought were farther down the road for us.”

What has worked to build your developer community? 

“Word-of-mouth led to beta signups, but we’ve increased our developer base by 75 percent since our official launch. Active promotion by Mashery’s Developer Outreach and customer marketing teams have accounted for the majority of those signups.”

What advice would you give someone launching an API as a company?

“Go to where the developers are. That's the advice that Mashery preaches, and following it has turned out very well for us."